24 Hours in A&E, TV review: St George's calm, authoritative staff are the stars of the show

This is the ninth run of the series filmed in the hospital in south-west London

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The Independent Culture

As a viewer, you often wish the stories you see in 24 Hours in A&E could be re-written, with happier endings. This opener for the ninth run of the series was an exception in that all the patients followed at St George's Hospital in south-west London, made a full or good recovery. The producers like to leave you guessing, though. There were three who came a cropper on a summer's day: 28-year-old Ashley who crashed his beloved motorbike (with dad Tim riding pillion), Fabian, 14, who fell out a tree and 77-year-old Jim, an ambulance driver, who collapsed at the wheel with a suspected stroke.

As is the show's formula, we heard from loved ones in-between footage of the boys constrained by scary orange head pads, smiling through grimaces and Jim looking bewildered as it dawned on him that his working days were over. Relatives gave reassuring hugs and squeezes, their faces belying inner turmoil revealed in the post-injury interviews. "It was like somebody had pressed pause on our life. Everything came to a finish," said Fabian's mum, Kaye. The stories go beyond the accidents. We learnt that Kaye and Tim were both single parents. "It's very rare that we tell each other what we really mean to each other," Tim said, a new man after the danger had passed.

The human stories never get less affecting, but it's the staff that leave me in awe: calm, authoritative, decisive, honest. How do they do it? This show may sometimes give an overly positive picture of the NHS, but editing can only mask so much.

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